Gravity is spectacular. That’s the simplest way of putting it. Sandra Bullock stars (and boy, does she shine) as Ryan Stone, an engineer on her first mission in space who, when we first meet her, is deflecting cheesy chat up lines from Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) while fixing something very complicated in space. Kowalski is accompanying her because he’s an expert - he’s been to space a lot. He even has a very cool backpack which propels him around space, making him look like Wall-E with the fire extinguisher.
Wall-E/George Clooney. Who can tell?
After getting a message from Mission Control, the astronauts are on the lookout for dangerous debris created by a Russian satellite collision with a missile. When the debris swings around to where Stone and Kowalski are working, it’s truly terrifying. Bits of metal and rock orbiting at an enormous pace, heading directly for you, (or so it feels) have become the villain of Gravity. Who needs a man stroking a white cat when pieces of inanimate objects can do the job just as well? The trailer makes Gravity look like a lot of heavy breathing in a space suit but there’s a hell of a lot more to it than that. It’s incredibly stylish but also very stark, there are no unnecessary frills and special effects and there is no evidence of a green screen.
What I love about Bullock’s performance is that when Stone panics, we panic, when her heart rate slows a little, so does ours, when she cries, we’re squeezing out our own tears. We’re so in sync with the actors, we may as well be in the spacesuit with them and sometimes, director Alfonso Cuarón makes sure we are, with some very clever editing. Please don’t mistake Gravity for a science-fiction film; it’s a drama, a disaster movie that is set in space. There are no fantastical elements to it (except maybe just how handsome George Clooney’s face is) and it’s primarily about human emotions and survival instincts.
The loneliness of space is conveyed beautifully (although that might have been because there was only one other person in the cinema when I saw it) but there’s also a fantastic contrast between just how insignificant we are in space and how effective one person’s actions can be. This sounds enigmatic but I’m desperately trying not to give anything major away. It’s an exhausting watch because you’re investing so much in one character and Cuarón is famous for his long, unbroken shots which mean that relief is scarce but you should still give it a go. If you’re one of those naughty people who download or stream films on your computer, a) don’t and b) definitely don’t for Gravity, it’s so important to see it on the biggest screen that you possibly can, so you can be completely immersed. I smell an Oscar…